As ever I have a choice of things to blog about today, but this caught my eye.
It was on the website of the campaign group 38 Degrees buried in the comments rather far down but google spotted it for me.
It was in the section about what 38 Degrees should do next and it is a prime example of the hysteria that causes people to campaign against ragwort.
It is full of nonsense. Here is the comment.
"RAGWORT a flowering plant that is on the dangerous weeds register. This non native plant is poisonous, having a cumilitive(sic) effect on the liver of any animal that eats it ( or children that pick the pretty flowers and anyone that handles the plant with bare hands). There is legislation about not allowing it to seed or grow on and near grazing land or fields used to grow hay. Unfortunately neither DEFRA or the County Councils seam willing to enforce the law. (perhaps because the councils and highways agency are among the worst offenders.
If the poison builds up in the livers of the animals that we eat are we in danger of becoming poisoned ourselves!!
First of all there is no such thing as "the dangerous weeds register". There is the weeds act but that does not automatically compel anyone to control ragwort and most of the weeds it lists are not poisonous. For the legal stuff see an earlier posting on ragwort law.
Second it is most definitely a NATIVE plant and it is very valuable ecologically.
Third there is no real risk to anyone that just picks the flowers. The alkaloids are very poorly absorbed through the skin and if you look at this article co-authored by a man with a Phd in ragwort you will see this.
Through our research about the sources of the reports on the danger of touching ragwort, we conclude that there is no substantial evidence that there is a health risk for people. The amount of pyrrolizidine alkaloids that might be absorbed through the skin is very low and there is no proof that these alkaloids are being changed into a toxic form.
Fourth the alkaloids do not accumulate in the liver. The damage can but the alkaloids are chemically changed in the process and destroyed. So the meat is no risk to people. Here is chapter and verse on ragwort and meat from the experts.
The worrying thing is three people said they liked the comment!